The role of paper in the digital era

Payments without cash, electronic health records, eBooks, digital receipts, online courses, virtual communication through email, social media or texts messages. These are just some of the many reasons that make us think that nowadays paper is nearly dead and it will be very soon. However, is this truly the case? Perhaps not entirely.

First of all, it is worth giving credit to the reasons why the use has actually decreased in the last years. As many of you may know, print media is facing a crisis, due to the fact that people tend to read news online. Laptops, tablets and smartphones allow us to have an idea about what is happening around the world in just one click and it is no surprise that the biggest media outlets have online apps in which it is possible to read articles of any kind. Moreover, social media have become channels of communication and distribution for those media. Sometimes, in order to check the news you just need to open Facebook and Twitter and you will be bombarded by articles.

In addition, paper is slowly disappearing also in the professional and financial worlds. Have you ever heard of the remote deposit capture process? It is a feature that new devices have that allow companies to scan images and store information in a few seconds, without having to deal with tons of paper. In this regards, it is well known the cash and checks are slowly disappearing as well. Nowadays there are several ways to pay online quickly and without effort. PayPal and online banking apps give us the chance to transfer money from our couch, avoiding us any useless waste of time.

Media consumption is also dramatically changing. How many of you though that book were never going to die? Well, the reality is slightly different, since a lot of readers, especially the younger ones, prefer to use their e-readers to enjoy their favourite novels. And the list of things that technology allows us to do without using paper could be substantially longer.

However, it is worth mentioning some of the reasons why paper is not entirely dead yet. To begin with, even though we use less paper to read we buy more online. This means that the products have to be put in packages and sent, an element that keeps giving life to the paper industry. Secondly, current research suggests that writing on paper is more productive than writing on a laptop or a smartphone. Apparently, writing by hand helps focusing and remembering concepts way more efficiently. Not something to underestimate, for sure. Moreover, newspaper still exist and for a reason: they offer the readers more in depth articles and news than their online counterparts. Usually, who reads online does not want long content. On the contrary, if you are interested in something developed more in depth you might tend to still prefer paper.

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